SHORT FILM REVIEW
SPECTER OF QUARANTINE
A group of friends gather on a Zoom call to contact the dead, with dire consequences.
A GROUP OF friends logs in for a Zoom call where they will be attempting a seance with the help of a super high priced medium. It all sounds like a great way to pass the time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Get together with friends, if you want to call a Zoom call getting together; play around with supernatural forces because well, why not? And all the while not really be scared or take it seriously because it's not real. It's online. The premise is kind of cool, reminding me instantly of the film Feardotcom all the way until I started watching. It's safe to say that Specter of Quarantine is nothing like Feardotcom, but still manages to be a reasonable way to spend some time - if you happen to be online looking to kill some time. Pun intended.
WHY NOT MAKE A SHORT HORROR FILM BASED ON WHAT HAS BECOME OUR NEW REALITY?
As the world has become familiar with the new normal being online social life, why not make a short horror film based on what has become our new reality? It seems like a natural fit and something a lot of people are becoming accustomed to. In Joshua Nelson's short film, we're very quickly acquainted with the familiar Zoom call format and the film starts off by introducing us to the characters. Don't mind the empty black box up top, that's for the ghost of the young girl who was killed a year prior to this film - the star of this supernatural soiree. This whole online adventure was the brainchild of the young girl's sister, and little does anyone know, her intentions are not purely derived from missing her sister.
DON'T MESS WITH THINGS YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND
As the characters are being introduced, you quickly realize that most of them are literal cliches. We have the nerdy guy dating an older woman. We have the playa' of the group, the medium who eventually joins, and everyone in between. What really struck me as odd though, was that no attempt was made to make me actually care about these people. Conversations range from when a woman gets, "The tingle" to weirdly sexual conversations like peeing on someone and the world-known cliche line, "Don't mess with things you don't understand" when the topic of a Ouija Board is briefly braced. I can honestly say that no character stood out or really interested me at all, until the end when the ghost finally appears.
The final third of this film is where things finally pick up and Specter of Quarantine finally becomes what I had hoped it would be. Aside from some over-dramatic acting from the medium as she signs off, it's when people start dying that things really get good. But even then, there are questions. Although you don't actually "see" her die, why was Veronica attacked? She doesn't even know any of these people and if this whole film is meant to demonstrate punishment, and justice, why her? The rest? Okay, maybe, they all "knew" but Veronica? It's a slight plot-hole that just stuck with me.
IF YOU'RE ONE WHO DOESN'T MIND SLOWER STARTING MOVIES, YOU'LL GET A KICK OUT OF THIS
Specter of Quarantine is a slow-build of a film that is much better at the end. I enjoyed how it made fun of itself in a way, joking about mediums and online seances. I really enjoyed the ending and for a time, even didn't mind that most of the film was in Zoom format. That feeling did fade, especially when the conversations of these people went from hum-drum to just plain weird. But I keep coming back to the ending, where Specter of Quarantine did manage to elicit a foreboding atmosphere. If you're one who doesn't mind slower starting movies and is totally comfortable with online webcam and Zoom formats, you'll get a kick out of this. Just press that play button and let it ride. A respectable 2.5 / 5 stars.
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